Washington Times – Ethics rules let D.C. Council members shield outside income

Excerpt:

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown last year reported earning $45,000 in outside income on top of his six-figure government salary for 2009, but who paid him and why is anybody’s guess. City ethics rules don’t require Mr. Brown to say.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat and at-large council member before his recent election as chairman, is among a group of five council members who last year reported earning tens of thousands of dollars in outside income in 2009.

Washington Times Article – Ethics rules let D.C. Council members shield outside income

The FightBack.org – Jack Evans In Violation of D.C. Law?

Excerpt:

Today, along with voting to close a $188 million budget shortfall, the D.C. Council is scheduled to vote on a $46 million tax abatement for a proposed luxury boutique hotel in Adams Morgan to be operated by Marriott. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who earns a second six-figure salary from the law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs, recused himself from voting on the last deal involving taxpayer subsidies for a project involving Marriott, possibly because his firm represented Marriott (details below). It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Evans recuses himself today as well. (Update: Mr. Evans did not recuse himself and the measure passed by a 9-3 margin, with one abstention (Muriel Bowser). Councilmembers David Catania, Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh opposed the tax abatement.)

See The FightBack.org – Jack Evans In Violation of D.C. Law?

New Chairman Must Order Evans to Comply with Conflict of Interest Laws

November 28, 2010

Dear Chairman-elect Brown:

First off, congratulations on your election to be D.C. Council chairman. I wish you the best in leading the Council in the years to come.

My main purpose for writing you is to call your attention to a conflict of interest matter that has been lingering for 17 months regarding Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and the convention center hotel public financing legislation. You may already be aware of this troubling matter.

Despite my repeated requests to outgoing Chairman (now mayor-elect) Vincent Gray, the Office of Campaign Finance and the Board of Elections and Ethics to do something about it, all of those offices have ignored my requests. I would hope — in the spirit of transparency, adherence to the law, and conflict-of-interest-free good government  — that you (unlike your predecessor) would take appropriate action to require Mr. Evans to comply with the D.C. conflict of interest laws and regulations contained in the D.C. Official Code and the D.C. Municipal Regulations, as well as in D.C. Council Rule 202.(Various portions of the applicable law are quoted in this letter and in my various enclosed communications with Chairman Gray’s office.) Continue reading

Ron Collins: For Chairman Vincent Gray’s Attention and Response

Mr. Collins:

Thank you for the information you provided under my Freedom of Information Act request. The information confirms that Councilmember Jack Evans has failed to provide Chairman Vincent Gray with a written statement detailing the reasons for his recusal on the convention center hotel financing legislation in June 2009.

As I noted in my original FOIA request (at the end of this chain of emails), D.C. law and regulations require that when a council member recuses himself because of the appearance of, or actual, conflict of interest, he must file a written statement explaining the recusal with your office, the Office of Campaign Finance and the Board of Elections and Ethics. I cited applicable portions of the law which clearly spell this out. (Please see the Addendum following this letter for some of the citations from my original FOIA application.) Continue reading

Chairman Gray FOIA Request – Folllow Up

August 13, 2010

Dear Chairman Gray:

This is a reminder that your response to my Freedom of Information Act request is overdue. The District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act requires a response to FOIA requests within 15 working days, and it has been 19 working days since I filed my request regarding Councilmember Jack Evans. (My FOIA request is copied below.)

Please note that Kathy Williams, general counsel of the Office of Campaign Finance, has responded to my initial FOIA request to that office by informing me that Mr. Evans has not filed a statement with OCF explaining his June 2009 recusal from voting on legislation pertaining to the Marriott International Convention Center hotel. Kenneth McGhie, general counsel for the Board of Elections and Ethics, has not yet responded to my similar FOIA request to that agency. His response, like yours, is four working days overdue.

As I noted in my original request, D.C. law and regulations require that when a council member recuses himself because of the appearance of, or actual, conflict of interest, he must file a written statement explaining the recusal with your office, the OCF and the BOEE.

As I also noted in my FOIA request to you, if such a statement was not provided to you by Mr. Evans, I would ask that you take the appropriate, prompt steps to obtain such a statement from Mr. Evans and, once it is in hand, to provide me with a copy of it under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act. Continue reading

Jack Evans and Patton Boggs: Questions of Conflicts of Interest

From John Hanrahan

SUMMARY: CONFLICTS RE. MARRIOTT AND BREAUX-LOTT/NORTHROP GRUMMAN?
Does the mainstream press in the District of Columbia care about conflicts of interest and ethical problems for members of the D.C. Council other than Marion Barry? If so, why are members of the press corps, of which I was a long-time member, so incurious about the interlocking public-private interests of my Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans?

The facts, which point to a glaring, unmistakable appearance of a conflict of interest by Evans, relate to two recent matters of obvious special interest to Evans’s outside employer, the highly influential Patton Boggs law firm/lobbying firm, which pays Evans $240,000 a year for unspecified services:

1. Evans’s recent unsuccessful effort to provide $25 million — or more, if need be — in tax incentives to defense industry giant Northrop Grumman to move its headquarters to the District of Columbia, rather than to suburban Maryland or Northern Virginia locations that were being considered for the planned move. Evans’s actions helped spark a bidding war between the jurisdictions, as The Washington Post noted editorially. Interestingly, and unreported in the press, Northrop Grumman — which stood to benefit from the bidding war — is a client of the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group. Breaux Lott for the last two years has had a “strategic relationship” with Patton Boggs and, according to press reports in March, was in negotiations to be acquired by Patton Boggs. [NOTE: SINCE I WROTE THIS PIECE, NEWS ARTICLES AND A PATTON BOGGS PRESS RELEASE IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS REPORTED THAT PATTON BOGGS HAS INDEED ACQUIRED BREAUX LOTT AND ITS CLIENTS, INCLUDING NORTHROP GRUMMAN, PRESUMABLY.]  Appearance of a conflict of interest? Newsworthy? I think so. Continue reading

Chairman Gray FOIA Request

July 19, 2010

Vincent C. Gray, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

D.C. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

Dear Chairman Gray:

Pursuant to the provisions of the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act, I request that you provide me with a copy of a statement of an appearance of conflict of interest and recusal by Councilmember Jack Evans pertaining to the $272 million public financing package for the Marriott International convention center hotel. This statement should have been filed sometime in late June or early July 2009, as required by the D.C. Municipal Regulations regarding potential conflicts of interest by councilmembers and other D.C. public officials (Title 3, Chapter 33, “Elections and Ethics Conflict of  Interest and Use of Government Resources for Campaign-Related Purposes,” Rule 3300, 3301, 3302, 3303, 3304, 3305).

I say, “should have been filed” because last July 1, 2009, The Examiner newspaper reported that Mr. Evans recused himself the day before from the final vote on the public subsidy for the convention center hotel “because his law firm, Patton Boggs, represents Marriott.” LINK TO EXAMINER  ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/D_C_-tentatively-OKs-paying-_72M-more-to-finance-convention-center-hotel-7903531-49548487.html

Just a few days earlier, on June 26, 2009, Evans, as chairman of the Committee and Finance and Revenue. had submitted a report to all council members on Bill 18-310, the “New Convention Center Hotel Amendment Act of 2009.” In that report, Evans, who had been actively involved in every step of bringing this bill to a final vote and had theretofore mentioned nothing about any possible conflict, said he was recusing himself  “from the consideration of this measure in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.” He offered no further explanation of his late-stage recusal in his committee report to council members, nor did he explain how this appearance of a conflict had only developed at the last moment. Continue reading